You know that scene in the movie in which some woman is chronicling her life. She’s seated in front of the laptop staring at the blinking cursor on the blank screen and the voiceover starts.
I’ve been sitting here for the past few minutes replaying that scene in my head. But it’s me staring at the blinking cursor and waiting for the voiceover to start so I would know what the fuck to even say about turning 44 today. The narrator doesn’t know what to say either.
The islanders on my Animal Crossing game knew what to say.
My friends texting me knew what to say.
Even my computer knew what to say:
But me and the narrator. We’re still struck incapable of finding the right words. Or even words.
Here’s the thing, this past year has been the year that time stood still. Even as the arms on the wall clock seemed fixed in time the numbers on the microwave raced at such speed that at times I couldn’t focus on them well enough to read them. Everything and nothing has happened and they happened all at once. It’s a lot to deal with. Both practically and existentially.
So this birthday, I feel like I’m paused. Not like modern pause on streaming or a dvd. But like that old school VHS pause where the tape still wants to pull through and the image flickers and you can see the movie, or in this case life, struggling to go on.
So maybe instead of waiting for that narrator to give me the perfect words to reflect on this year I’ll just reflect on the fact that I’m still alive. My daughter and partner are still alive. My family is still alive. My friends are still alive. One of my cats is still alive. The loud one. And we’re, relatively speaking, safe.
I’d prefer to tell you we’re all happy and healthy and well but I think we both know that would, at best, be a half-truth even in the best of times. These are not the best of times.
So here I sit at 44 watching my analog clock tick and stutter without the power to move onto the next minute while the digital clock next to it races onto the next hour, day, week, and probably year. I’m giving myself the best gift I can think of today. I’m passing on the deep self reflection I normally attempt on this day. And I’m encouraging you to find the break you need and give it to yourself today too.